vendredi 15 décembre 2017

Puerto Rico still in the dark....

A depressing words-and-video feature about the continuing catastrophe in Puerto Rico, where most people have been without electricity since the hurricane three months ago.

Puerto Rico’s apagón, or “super blackout,” is the longest and largest major power outage in modern U.S. history. Without electricity, there is no reliable source of clean water. School is out, indefinitely. Health care is fraught. Small businesses are faltering. The tasks of daily life are both exhausting and dangerous. There is nothing to do but wait, and no one can say when the lights will come back on.

via International Skeptics Forum

Domestic violence - zero tolerance

BBC News: Backlash over 'stay with abuser' posts shared by Essex Police

"A police force has faced a backlash over social media posts that appeared to support domestic abuse victims staying with their partners.

Sheila's Story describes how a woman who "knew that the abuse in her relationship was wrong" is given help and support to stay with her husband.

Twitter and Facebook users criticised the "incredibly dangerous message".

Essex Police apologised for the offence caused by the post's use of "clumsy language".

"However, the stories featured in the campaign are real stories," a force spokesman said."

So basically today's message is that each and every instance of domestic violence should result in the victim leaving. Tehre is no other option.


via International Skeptics Forum

Have you contacted your Congress Person demanding you want net neutrality to stay?

Cause I think you should, unless

1) You don't believe that net neutrality is in danger of disappearing

2) You don't believe losing net neutrality affects you at all

via International Skeptics Forum

The Best Judges

I really recommend watching the video.


One of Donald Trump’s nominees to become a federal judge has failed to answer a string of basic questions about law.

Matthew Spencer Petersen admitted he was unfamiliar with several common legal terms during questioning by Republican Senator John Kennedy at a hearing earlier this week.

I love the bit about blogging and the KKK at the end too.

Maybe this one won't get confirmed...

via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 14 décembre 2017

Anyone good at Latin here? I need a Latin translation

Latin knowers

I need a Latin name for a book I'm writing. I know nothing about Latin. I would like to know what would the name be for a creature named after the ship that found it (on a scientific expedition). The ship's name is the Semiramide so what would be the Latin term for Semiramide's fish and or beast be?

Thanks in advance

via International Skeptics Forum

Effective Public Debate

- In my opinion
1. Current public debate is almost totally ineffective and is seriously problematic.
2. But then, we desperately need public debate – effective public debate – especially, these days.
3. The world is becoming more and more polarized. We're sliding down both sides of multiple hills.
4. IOW, we humans seriously need a serious ability to communicate -- and negotiate -- with those with whom we disagree.

5. But then, most of the specific problems in public debate seem obvious.
6. As are potential solutions -- especially with the Internet at our fingertips.
7. Yet, no one seems to be trying to solve this problem.
8. It's as if we don’t think we have a serious problem here.
9. Or, we've simply decided that this particular problem cannot be solved -- or even, significantly improved upon.
10. I have, at least the beginnings of, a solution.

via International Skeptics Forum

Saturn's rings puzzle me

Apparently they puzzle astronomers too.


NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—The rings of Saturn seem like permanent fixtures in the solar system, firing the imagination of poets and scientists alike. But observations made this year, in the final months of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, and reported here at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) show they are surprisingly youthful: Until a few hundred million years ago, they did not exist. Saturn acquired its jewels relatively late in life. If any astronomers had gazed at the sky in the time of the dinosaurs, they might have seen a bare and boring Saturn.

It was then that some sort of catastrophe struck the gas giant. Perhaps a stray comet or asteroid struck an icy moon, tossing its remnants into orbit. Or maybe the orbits of Saturn’s moons somehow shifted, and the resulting gravitational tug-of-war pulled a moon apart. However it happened, two new lines of evidence from Cassini make it clear that the rings were not around in the early days of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, as scientists had long believed, says Jeff Cuzzi, a ring specialist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. “It rules out the primordial ring story,” Cuzzi says. “That’s what it looks like to me.”
Some of those theories sound ridiculous to me. Particularly the one about somehow the orbits of Saturn's moons shifting and causing a "gravitational tug of war".

A comet colliding with a moon sounds like a good theory to me.

via International Skeptics Forum

mercredi 13 décembre 2017

Roy Moore is done

New Thread!

You know you want it.

via International Skeptics Forum

Math Problem - Car park revenue

A vacant lot has opened up next door to my work place that was turned into a temporary car park. When they first opened they were charging $18 per day and the place was empty for weeks. No one wanted to use it.

Eventually they dropped the price to $7 per day and within a couple of weeks the car park was full every day.

So now they are slowly putting up the prices, it went from $7 to $7.50 and now it is $8.00. I now see a few spaces in the car park that are there all day so the price increase was affecting take-up which would be expected.

I was wondering what the math would look like that works out the sweet spot, i.e. what is the price to park which will earn the most amount of money per day for the car park. To do this I have to make an assumption regarding how many people stop using the car park for every 50cent price increase and I think that function is nonlinear. So lets assume it is nx2. So if the price goes up my 50c then there is 1 new vacant space every day, increase of $1 is 2 vacant spaces, $1.50 is 4 spaces etc.

If we assume there are 200 spaces to begin with and $7 means it is always full and also assume that there is no initial lag such that the first initial increases in price has an immediate effect (i.e. the people who couldn't get a space when it was $7 don't turn up and take the extra spaces when it goes up to $8 due to new availability).

I can imagine a bell curve showing an increase in revenue as the price is increased because the lost revenue from the number of extra vacant spaces does not exceed the money they gain from putting up the price, but then at some point the loss of income from the number of vacant spaces will be greater than the extra amount they get from putting up the price. So I would need to work out the peak of the bell curve, the point just before revenue starts going down with another price hike.

How would I approach this mathematically (BTW, this is not a course work problem, I was just trying to figure it out on my way home the other night after noticing the extra spaces in the car park after the last price hike, but my math is rusty and I was never that good anyway).

Any takers?

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 12 décembre 2017

Permit for Celebration of Terror attack not given.

"The white supremacists and neo-Nazis whose rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August resulted in the death of a young woman want to mark the anniversary next year with another rally.

But on Monday, Charlottesville said no, denying permits to five organizers planning events on Aug. 11 and 12, 2018, including people who wanted to organize counterprotests."

via International Skeptics Forum

Global Church/David C Cook

Every year in the run-up to Christmas I get a few leaflets from local churches I've never heard of. Yesterday I got one from the Global Church ("a Church family where you can belong before you believe"), inviting me to a festive celebration to be held at a York hotel.

Other than proclaiming that:


Our Churches will always be Christ Centred, Bible Based, Spirit Led. We will always be on a mission to make disciples who Love God, Love Life & Love People, and we will continually plant churches that are Real, Relevant and Robust, aiming to touch communities from Here to Everywhere.
...GC's website is curiously unhelpful about where it stands in regard to the reality and relevance bit. However, a quick Google revealed that GC is associated with American publisher David C Cook of Action Bible fame (the one with pictures by DC/Marvel artist Sergio Cariello).

It turns out that a large part of GC's work consists of evangelizing children. I cringed when I read this:


Thorani Found Jesus
Her name is Thorani. She is 13 years old, studies in 8th standard and comes from a poor Hindu family...Her Grandmother is a staunch Hindu and taught Thorani Hindu prayers and rituals to worship different gods and goddesses. Her grandmother’s house had several idols and there were many Hindu temples in the neighborhood. Thorani followed in the footsteps of her grandmother.

About three years ago, Thorani learned about the Peter’s Club, where David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum was being taught. Out of curiosity, she attended one lesson and she came back for the second and the third lesson. She fell in love with the stories from the Bible. The lesson God Knows Everything was the turning point in her life. That is when she met Jesus. She found a living God who listens, speaks, cares and loves unlike the idols she was worshipping.

Talking with Anand, one of the programme coordinators, Thorani said,
I did not know that Jesus knew me before I was born. He knew how I lived my life…how my mother left me…my brother died…He knows my work, my worries, my behavior. He also knows how alone I felt. How much I missed the love of my father and mother… Jesus knows my prayer before I even pray.

He is my God and my Savior. I am looking forward to being baptized. I have decided to serve Him.

I still go to temples with my grandmother because she wants to pray to them. I don’t pray to idols anymore. I share the Good News with my Grandmother but she doesn’t believe in that. I hope and pray she too will find Jesus.
One can only hope that Thorani's conversion won't lead to serious problems with her grandmother, who seems to be her only caregiver, and her neighbours. More indifference to the potentially harmful effects of religion causing problems within families and communities:


Did you know sixty percent of kids who attend church in Cuba don’t come with family?
Young people in Cuba are hungry to know God and His Word.
That’s why pastors in Cuba are eager for ministry resources that address the whole child—spiritual growth, character development, and life skills. Most children’s ministry resources don’t provide this combination. But David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum does, built on the solid foundation of God’s Word.
More of the same, this time concerning a children's club run by GC:


Sindhu comes from a home where Hindu gods are feared. Her father was struck by tuberculosis; her mother supports the family by picking through trash in a massive garbage dump in the midst of their neighborhood. They believe their suffering has been determined by karma, a Hindu belief that you suffer for the bad deeds committed in a previous life...

Unfortunately, Hindu extremists control the area where Sindhu lives and spread information about the Club. One day, neighbors complained that children were being converted to Christianity. As a result, Sindhu’s mother stopped her from going to the Club. When Auntie Sunitha didn’t see Sindhu for a couple of weeks, she became concerned and went to visit the mother. The visit, however, was not welcome. Sindhu’s mother launched a verbal attack that stopped the Club leader in her tracks...

Young Sindhu finds much comfort in knowing God. She understands how much He loves her, and she believes He rescues those who love Him. Sindhu trusts God for all her needs. She makes a point of collecting the neighborhood children to attend the Club. Her faith is infectious.

It was this faith that impacted her family. One morning soon after the incident between her mother and Auntie Sunitha, Sindhu’s uncle called to say he was in desperate need of money. His daughter was born prematurely and the hospital would not treat her unless they came up with a large sum. Sindhu told her uncle not to worry. She was praying to Jesus for a solution. Her mother laughed as Sindhu knelt and prayed. Then her mother went house to house begging for money.

The next morning her uncle called again. He asked to speak to Sindhu. He told her that Jesus had heard her prayer and they received the money. The baby was safe.

The incident brought about a great change in Sindhu’s mother. She allowed her daughter to attend the Club again. She also requested that Sunitha pray for her husband’s battle with tuberculosis. Auntie Sunitha introduced them to a church. The family began to attend regularly.
Oh, for pete's sake. Does it take a genius to work out that "miraculous" money came from GC? Of course, GC has to get 'em young to save their immortal souls:


Roughly 6 billion people around the world are facing an eternity without God*.
* The Global Religious Landscape, Pew Research, retrieved April 19, 2017 from Indicates approximately 30% of the world’s 6.9 billion people are Christian.
Thanks for the invitation, GC, but I think I'll give your Christmas do a miss.

via International Skeptics Forum

US Ambassador - Trump UK will go ahead

Hardly shocking that the US ambassador to the UK is giving Donald Trump his full backing:


The US ambassador to Britain said he expects Donald Trump to visit the UK in the new year despite his recent Twitter row with Theresa May.

Woody Johnson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the disagreement was "probably misinterpreted".

It seems that he thinks that Donald Trump is just doing "Modern DiplomacyTM"....


He accepted there "may be disagreements" over how Mr Trump says or does things.

He said that Mr Trump was not "namby-pamby" about expressing his views
I think there is a big difference between not being namby-pamby and being a manchild who lashes out against an ally when they criticise you for retweeting far right propaganda.

I think a state visit for Donald Trump to the UK would be a clear and unambiguous demonstration that we are truly desperate as a country and that we are the international equivalent of the GOP representatives who quietly complain about Donald Trump or Roy Moore but who meekly fall into line as soon as their bluff is called.

Had President Trump not attacked Theresa May personally then maybe she would have some wriggle room but inviting him would be a craven act IMO.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 11 décembre 2017

Old Movie Buffs! .. . Can you name this movie for me?

Old Movie Buffs! .. . Can you name this movie for me?

I only remember one scene and one of the actors (I was probably a kid when I saw it).

One actor cuts his name out f the movie (or maybe broadway show's) POSTER with a pocket knife (neatly as he can) and uses bubble gum to give himself top billing, be regaling it above everyone else name.

It may be old enough to be filmed in Black and White too.

via International Skeptics Forum

More people shot by cops than reported

A recent study by Vice investigative reports shows that

Shot By Cops And Forgotten


An exclusive analysis of data from the 50 largest local police departments in the United States shows that police shoot Americans more than twice as often as previously known.

Police shootings aren’t just undercounted — police in these departments shoot black people at a higher rate and shoot unarmed people far more often than any data has shown. Recent reform efforts have already worked to bring down police shootings, our investigation shows. Yet Attorney General Jeff Sessions is moving away from these reforms, to the dismay of advocates, experts, and some local law enforcement officials.

VICE News examined both fatal and nonfatal incidents to determine that cops in the 50 largest local departments shot at least 3,631 people from 2010 through 2016. That’s more than 500 people a year. On more than 700 other occasions, police fired at citizens and missed. Two-thirds of the people cops fired at survived.

And, naturally Black victims of police shooting are far more numerous than any other ethnic group, and even more numerous than all other ethnic groups combined. As well as being more than twice as likely to be shot while unarmed than white victims.


They were more likely than whites to be armed with a gun but less likely to be armed with a weapon overall.

Emphasis added.

There is a lot of really depressing information in that article. And because of the limitations of data availability, it's highly likely that the scale of the problem is even higher.

via International Skeptics Forum

Possibility that atmospheric gases support life on other planets

"Cultivation-independent surveys have shown that the desert soils of Antarctica harbour surprisingly rich microbial communities .... We propose that atmospheric H2, CO2 and CO provide dependable sources of energy and carbon to support these communities, which suggests that atmospheric energy sources can provide an alternative basis for ecosystem function to solar or geological energy sources8,9. Although more extensive sampling is required to verify whether this process is widespread in terrestrial Antarctica and other oligotrophic habitats, our results provide new understanding of the minimal nutritional requirements for life and open the possibility that atmospheric gases support life on other planets."

More research needed but pretty cool

via International Skeptics Forum

Dec11 8:00am reports of an explosion in midtown Manhattan-Port Authority bus terminal

The google results

NY Post used the term "device"

via International Skeptics Forum

Sexual harrassment in the work place (UK)

BBC News: Harassment survey - 'I'm a waitress but I feel like a sex worker'

"Two in five women in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work and only a quarter of them reported it, a BBC survey has found.

Among men, one in five (18%) said they have been harassed at work.

The poll of more than 6,000 men and women, one of the largest ever conducted into sexual harassment in the workplace, suggested those who work flexibly are more likely to encounter this type of behaviour."

It's notable that while the survey shows that female:male split of victims is 2:1, the views and experiences of six women are quoted, but not a single man.

via International Skeptics Forum

Bermuda Repeals Same-Sex Marriage

It seems that Bermuda's government has gone ahead and repealed gay marriage and replaced it with domestic partnerships. Same-sex marriage was legalized by their Supreme Court earlier this year. A same-sex marriage referendum last year got a very solid "no" vote for both same-sex marriage and civil unions, but was non-binding.
Some sources are actually saying that Bermuda is the first country to repeal same-sex marriage rights after recognizing them. Apparently, gay couples that married after the court ruling but before the new legislation will continue to be legally married.

via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 10 décembre 2017

This is a good example of what's-the-harm, and it really bothers me.

There are a few Facebook pages devoted to "psychics and mediums". To check one out, thinking it would be good for some smiles, I made up some story and was allowed to join. It was pretty much what I had expected, which was a lot of silliness. Smudging, spirit guides, tarot reading - the usual. I even made up a story about thinking my house was haunted, and received advise that ranged from calling a priest to setting up an alter to do a ritual that would free me from "negative energy". One person insisted I had to put a bible under the bed and chant some type of garbage.

It became more boring then humorous after a couple of days, but it still shows up when I scroll the page. Yesterday, someone posted about their child, and the post and responses were horrifying (to me).

The woman had a 2yr old daughter. The baby would cry and scream every night around the same time, (between 2am and 3am), uncontrollable hysteria. The baby could not comforted, wasn't hungry, didn't need a diaper change, and was being held, but "seemed to be in pain". So, does the mother call a doctor? No. She turns to this psychic/medium website.

It doesn't just irritate me because of the sheer absurdity, it infuriates me because the ignorance is dangerous. The mother will take the child to a holistic - doctor(?).It strikes a nerve for me. My granddaughter had the same issues, and was taken to a real doctor. It turned out she had a cyst on her brain, causing severe headaches that she was too young to verbalize.

I posted to the mother that she needed to get the child to a doctor, and the members basically told me to take a hike. But really, can anything be done about situation like this? Does anyone monitor these sites? To me, it is akin to child abuse.

via International Skeptics Forum

samedi 9 décembre 2017

Cop kills unarmed man who begged cop not to kill him.

A jury acquitted an Arizona cop who killed an unarmed man while he crawled on the floor begging for his life. Cop claimed he was reaching for a non-existent gun; others say he was trying to keep his pants on.

via International Skeptics Forum

August Ames Conspiracy video (put on your tinfoil hats, people)...



Why do they even care? Most CTers see porn as evil and pornstars as people who are possessed by demons/lucifer/the devil.

Heck, they even think PornHub was created by the devil so that people would be lured towards adultery, which is a sin or something...

By the way, we need the tinfoil smiley as a post icon. :thumbsup:

via International Skeptics Forum

Is Nazism an act of incitement?

I believe that support for Nazism is an act of inciting violence.

The Nazis were a cruel system of hatred and illegal violence against innocent people. Tens of millions were killed and many more enslaved and tortured under their regime, simply due to ethnicity, religion, political stance.

I personally see waving a Nazi flag or supporting Nazi as the same as saying "Jews should be killed".

Do you agree? Am I totally off base here?

via International Skeptics Forum

How Can Sayfullo Saipov Get a Fair Trial?

I wonder what the judge will rule when the defense argues his client can't get a fair trial anywhere in the country, because the President said Sayfullo Saipov, whom we must presume is innocent, deserves the death penalty. I don't think a situation like this has ever happened before.

via International Skeptics Forum

Liberals and free speech

Here we have two liberals wanting to silence the opposition. I would argue that Howard Dean is the exact opposite of Steve Bannon but you dont here Bannon crying about Deans right to free speech

via International Skeptics Forum

Positive/hopeful breast cancer stories?

I need some positive & hopeful breast cancer stories.

Anybody got some? Really appreciate it.

I think I really need to stop doing any web research as it just freaks me out.

via International Skeptics Forum

Frightening horror story

I can't find the book. I either gave it away, it's lost or I accidentally threw it away but I was reading several scary stories in this collection of eerie stories.

One story I read engrossed me. The person who wrote the story was apparently not a writer. The gentleman was the midnight to eight manager of a mental hospital for the criminally insane.

The behavior of the inmates was horrible as one can imagine and it included stories of human waste being thrown. SUicides and murders despite the best efforts of the staff to prevent them.

I can't remember the title of the story but apparently, I was reading a report, not a regular tale.

We live in a frightening scary world. They walk among us.

via International Skeptics Forum

Is time merely an illusion?

I think this is a philosophical question rather than a scientific one, but apparently a famous scientist said the following:


People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
(Albert Einstein)

It seems at once both completely ridiculous and also plausible. If true, I suppose it means that everything in the future is essentially predetermined (although that word presupposes time).

via International Skeptics Forum

vendredi 8 décembre 2017

Who will win the Alabama Senate special election?

So who will end up taking Jeff Sessions Alabama senate seat? The election is next Tuesday.

Will it be democrat Doug Jones or republican and known pedophile Roy Moore?

via International Skeptics Forum

Found photo's of JFK motorcade

My stepfather was a photographer, located in San Diego, CA. He has been gone for many years, and I have a few of his favorite (black and whites). There are several of some celebrities and well known sports figures.

Also, are close ups of JFK, when his motorcade went through San Diego, June 6, 1963. A couple photos show him on a balcony reaching down to touch spectators hands. Another photo is of President Dwight E and Mami walking down a corridor in an ornate hotel lobby.

So, I take them out and look at them now and then, but really, I don't feel any emotional connection. Any ideas about places to contact that may want them for a collection of some type?


via International Skeptics Forum

Driverless cars

I saw hardtalk on TV last night and it posed some interesting problems for driverless cars. For example, if a driverless car was going to crash and possibly kill the occupants but to swerve to avoid the collision would mean running down a group of pedestrians what would the car do?

Can a programmed car possibly be safe if it cannot make moral choices of this nature?

Not only that but even programming a car to read the road ahead and pull over to allow oncoming traffic would be difficult. Would all cars be programmed to give way, if so would it not cause traffic jams?

It also occurred to me that if you programmed a car to drive aggressively then cars would be fighting for a parking space, and that could cause accidents.

I am hoping that this problem will not affect me, and I will not live long enough to see the only taxis available will be driverless, Or that all buses will be driverless, because I don't want to ride in one.

via International Skeptics Forum

A Voter Fraud Conviction

An actual case of voter fraud has ended in a conviction. It's a prominent Republication who wanted to give an extra vote to Trump.

Steve Curtis, a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, faces up to three years in prison after being convicted Thursday of voter fraud and forgery for signing his ex-wife’s ballot during the 2016 election, prosecutors say.
The DA's statement is excellent:

“Voting is one of the most important rights we have as American citizens, and the defendant deliberately stole that right away from Ms. Curtis,” District Attorney Michael Rourke said in a written statement. “He saw an opportunity to vote twice in one of the most important presidential elections in recent history and intentionally defrauded our system.”

via International Skeptics Forum

A Landmark in Artificial Intelligence

People have been playing chess for about 1,500 years. In that time it’s been studied and analyzed in a search for the best strategies for winning.

Recently, Google’s Deep Mind was tasked with doing the same thing - start with just the rules of the game and random moves, and by playing games against itself learn the best strategies to win.

Which it did. In about 4 hours. Well enough to win against the best chess program out there, Stockfish, in a 100 game tournament. And more than enough to defeat virtually any human opponent.

Details here: [url)]

Anyway, I do find that fascinating - and humbling.

via International Skeptics Forum

Rep. Trent Franks is expected to resign

“I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable,” Franks said. “I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.”

Rather than allowing “a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most,” he said he had notified House leadership he would resign effective Jan. 31.

Kudos to the Speaker and others in House Leadership for acting so quickly.

via International Skeptics Forum

Guns And Violence Study


What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? By Max Fisher and Josh Keller

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike.
Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent.
Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper
mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible,
all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world.
Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America
is its astronomical number of guns.

This study surprises me.

Just guns, that's it?

If I eyeball the graphs and exclude the United States then I get a negative
correlation for the first graph and almost tiny negative correlation on the second.

Does anyone see it differently?

via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 7 décembre 2017

What was Napoleon's ultimate aim?

Did Napoleon the First ever state exactly what his objective was or was it all reaction to events? What was his 'vision' for the look of Europe' if he had ever finished whatever he was trying to do?

via International Skeptics Forum

Spiders could eat us all up and have room for dessert

Ok, I saw an arachnophobe's worst nightmare that seems worth noting. It seems spiders eat a whole lot of meat. Like lots and lots. It's a good thing we're not on the menu!


via International Skeptics Forum

bisexual woman dies after being bullied and branded a homophobe because she refused t

We must be reaching peak stupidity on all sides. Everything is wrong with this, Nothing makes sense.

So if a woman doesn't want to have sex with a man it's her body, her choice and her right, unless that man who wants to sleep with her for money is gay or bisexual in which case she is then a homophobe even though she likes women sexually.

Imo she was guilty of being an unprofessional and insensitive dick, but nothing worth harrangueing until she topped herself.

Lets all slide down this slippery slope and consider the implications together.

via International Skeptics Forum

A show of supremacy: USA moves embassy to Jerusalem

Just to ensure that nobody in the Middle East can fail to notice that USA sees itself as above everyone else, beyond criticism and discussion, too powerful to be prevented by anyone whosoever from doing whatever it pleases, USA moves its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

How helpful this slap on the face of the defenseless will be, remains to be seen.

via International Skeptics Forum

Big Pharma is Killing Holistic Doctors

This is very serious, I am told. It is news that the MSM is ignoring completely. It makes you wonder what other terrible things are being done by Big Corporations!

Unintended Holistic Doctor Death Series: Now 80 Dead

Why Is THIS Happening to Holistic Doctors?? 77+

Famous Holistic Author, Working Against Big Pharma, Found Dead

via International Skeptics Forum

Big Pharma is Killing Holistic Doctors

double post

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mercredi 6 décembre 2017

An interesting read about OPCA gurus. . .

via International Skeptics Forum

I have spent six months 3D mapping and drone filming Billy the Kid sites, see flights

Of course it’s long it’s a mini documentary.

Nobody has ever forensically mapped (even though it’s basic it’s at least a start) any Lincoln county war sites in New Mexico by air

History buffs or teachers might like, show the class. Darn good soundtrack that man can indeed pick and sing.

via International Skeptics Forum

Explain Windows Media Player SRS WOW Effects Like I'm 5?

Exactly what it says on the tin. I have all high-quality MP3s, but they sound like garbage on my speakers. I'm unable to install any additional programs on this computer, but I see WMP has a feature called SRS WOW effects? There's a little slider for adjusting bass called "TruBass" and then another slider labeled "WOW effect." Real helpful!

I'm afraid I don't know much about digital sound settings, and I had a lot of trouble finding a basic tutorial in Google. Does anyone have a link or a few pointers, or even just some recommended settings for these WOW effects?

My speakers are small desktop variety, no subwoofer attachment. To me, my music currently sounds sort of scratchy or tinny.

I tried to just play around with these WOW sound settings, but I couldn't really tell if it sounded better or not. All I am sure of is that adding a lot of bass sounds worse. Then I started overthinking it and getting frustrated.

Basically - halp, is there an audiophile in the house?

via International Skeptics Forum

Help, advise needed!

So, about 5 months ago I bought a new, cheap Dell laptop for $200. It has been nothing but trouble, which has caused me to phone Dell tech support several times. Then, a few days ago I got a virus, and once again I called.

I was told that the virus could be taken care of, new protection would be installed, and the on going problem of it being so slow would also be fixed. I gave them my credit card info to buy the protection.

The virus was gone and the computer working, but it was still running frustratingly slow.

This morning I received notice from my bank that I was overdrawn. It turns out Dell tech charged me $400, though I am still under warranty.

How should I handle this? I wrote Dell, and am getting ready to call my bank. Can anyone advise me?

Thanks so much.

via International Skeptics Forum

Politics and Bias

Over the last year, political schisms have widened. Trump is a fantastic tool for further separating viewpoints, for preventing meaningful discussion, and for tribal behavior all around. Liberals circle their wagons and insist that the media is biased, the republicans are evil buffoons, and conservatives are out to destroy the world. Conservatives circle their wagons and insist that the media is biased, the democrats are elitist pricks, and liberals are out to destroy the world.

So in the context of politics, specifically, and with consideration for current events, I'd like to discuss the cognitive biases and fallacies that we ALL fall prey to :D

For an entertaining version, here's an article from Cracked. Note that I've taken some formatting liberties with the quoted elements below - these are snippets, capturing the titles of each section and the related science from each... but skipping over a lot of other text. It's Cracked, so it's entertaining to read in its entirety ;)


*We're Not Programmed to Seek "Truth," We're Programmed to "Win"
It's called the argumentative theory of reasoning, and it says that humans didn't learn to ask questions and offer answers in order to find universal truths. We did it as a way to gain authority over others. That's right -- they think that reason itself evolved to help us bully people into getting what we want.

*Our Brains Don't Understand Probability
It's called neglect of probability. Our brains are great for doing a lot of things. Calculating probability is not one of them. That flaw colors every argument you've ever had, from the tax code down to that time your friend totally cheated you in a coin-flip.
*We Think Everyone's Out to Get Us
Think about all the people you've disagreed with this month. How many of them do you think were being intentionally dishonest? Experts say you're almost definitely overshooting the truth. It's called the trust gap, and scientist see it crop up every time one human is asked to estimate how trustworthy another one is.
*We're Hard-Wired to Have a Double Standard
It's called the fundamental attribution error. It's a universal thought process that says when other people screw up, it's because they're stupid or evil. But when we screw up, it's totally circumstantial.
*Facts Don't Change Our Minds
Let's go back to the beginning for a moment, and the theory that people figured out how to build arguments as a form of verbal bullying rather than a method of spreading correct information. That means that there are actually two reasons somebody might be arguing with you: because they actually want to get you to think the right thing, and because they're trying to establish dominance over you to lower your status in the tribe (or office or forum) and elevate their own. That means there's a pretty severe cost to being on the wrong side of an issue completely separate from the issue itself.

And a little more to the point:

The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

In psychology, the idea that everyone is like us is called the “false-consensus bias.” This bias often manifests itself when we see TV ratings (“Who the hell are all these people that watch NCIS?”) or in politics (“Everyone I know is for stricter gun control! Who are these backwards rubes that disagree?!”) or polls (“Who are these people voting for Ben Carson?”).
Online it means we can be blindsided by the opinions of our friends or, more broadly, America. Over time, this morphs into a subconscious belief that we and our friends are the sane ones and that there’s a crazy “Other Side” that must be laughed at — an Other Side that just doesn’t “get it,” and is clearly not as intelligent as “us.” But this holier-than-thou social media behavior is counterproductive, it’s self-aggrandizement at the cost of actual nuanced discourse and if we want to consider online discourse productive, we need to move past this.
And to get some relevant concepts down...
Bias Blind Spot

The bias blind spot is the cognitive bias of recognizing the impact of biases on the judgement of others, while failing to see the impact of biases on one's own judgment. The term was created by Emily Pronin, a social psychologist from Princeton University's Department of Psychology, with colleagues Daniel Lin and Lee Ross. The bias blind spot is named after the visual blind spot. Most people appear to exhibit the bias blind spot. In a sample of more than 600 residents of the United States, more than 85% believed they were less biased than the average American. Only one participant believed that he or she was more biased than the average American. People do vary with regard to the extent to which they exhibit the bias blind spot. It appears to be a stable individual difference that is measurable (for a scale, see Scopelliti et al. 2015).

The bias blind spot appears to be a true blind spot in that it is unrelated to actual decision making ability. Performance on indices of decision making competence are not related to individual differences in bias blind spot. In other words, everyone seems to think they are less biased than other people, regardless of their actual decision making ability.

Naive Realism


In social psychology, naïve realism is the human tendency to believe that we see the world around us objectively, and that people who disagree with us must be uninformed, irrational, or biased.
The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

When Pronin, Ross, Kruger and Savitsky moved from individuals to groups, they found an even more troubling version of the illusion of asymmetric insight. They had subjects identify themselves as either liberals or conservatives and in a separate run of the experiment as either pro-abortion and anti-abortion. The groups filled out questionnaires about their own beliefs and how they interpreted the beliefs of their opposition. They then rated how much insight their opponents possessed. The results showed liberals believed they knew more about conservatives than conservatives knew about liberals. The conservatives believed they knew more about liberals than liberals knew about conservatives. Both groups thought they knew more about their opponents than their opponents knew about themselves. The same was true of the pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion groups.

The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong.

The researchers explained this is how one eventually arrives at the illusion of naive realism, or believing your thoughts and perceptions are true, accurate and correct, therefore if someone sees things differently than you or disagrees with you in some way it is the result of a bias or an influence or a shortcoming. You feel like the other person must have been tainted in some way, otherwise they would see the world the way you do – the right way. The illusion of asymmetrical insight clouds your ability to see the people you disagree with as nuanced and complex. You tend to see your self and the groups you belong to in shades of gray, but others and their groups as solid and defined primary colors lacking nuance or complexity.
It is my opinion that these fairly universal cognitive biases are at play in the majority of our political discourse, and have been exacerbated in the past year.

via International Skeptics Forum

The rich get richer....

Latest news on the inequality front:

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country's wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Woolf. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Woolf's data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

via International Skeptics Forum

Shouldn't "pull yourself by your bootstraps" apply to Trump voters

Why doesn't the mantra of "Pull yourself by your bootstraps" never apply to people who want Trump to bring the jobs back? Why don't these people just sent up their own businesses and be entrepreneurs?

via International Skeptics Forum

Stupid question about Palestine

I recognise that they would not see them as such, but are people in areas of Palestine like Gaza and the West Bank still technically Israelis? Are those areas still technically a part of the recognised nation state of Israel?

via International Skeptics Forum

Finland celebrates 100 years independence today

Finland fought some 27 wars against Russia...and lost every single one of them.

But hey! Today marks 100 years of independence: after one hundred years of Imperialist Russia and 700 years of Sweden.


On December 6th 1917, Finland proclaimed its independence for the first time. For centuries it had been controlled by its powerful neighbours, Sweden and Russia. As World War One raged across Europe and Russia was embroiled in its own revolution, Finnish intellectuals took the opportunity to push for their own state. But many ordinary people were more concerned with dire food shortages and the chaos caused by conflict. Olga Smirnova hears memories of that time.

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 5 décembre 2017

[Split From] Trans Women are not Women

I'm sure luchog or ponderingturtle will be around shortly to tell us that you're dehumanising trans people or that you're in favour of beating them up and pushing them to suicide.

via International Skeptics Forum

Can you hear the silent gif?

It's an internet craze. Watch the silent gif of the funny jump-roping towers. Do you hear the thud of the jumper? I do, and apparently lots of others do as well. The sound is created in your brain by your "visual ear". The gif is in this article...


Originally Posted by BBC News
Remember the white and gold dress that some internet users were certain was actually blue and black? Well, this time the dilemma being discussed online is whether you can hear anything in a silent animation of skipping pylons.

Some people claim they can hear a thudding sound when the pylon hits the ground and the picture vibrates.

Many social media users have discussed the noisy-gif phenomenon, as on Imgur in 2011, for example, where it was titled an "optical illusion for the ears"...

It resurfaced again last weekend when Dr. Lisa DeBruine from the Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology at the University of Glasgow posted it on Twitter, asking her followers to describe whether they experienced any auditory sensations while watching it.

Dr. DeBruine received more then 245,000 responses from people claiming to hear a sound accompanying the animation, with 70 per cent of respondents saying they could hear a thudding sound.

Dr. DeBruine told the BBC: "I don't know why some people hear it very clearly, others only feel it, and others perceive nothing at all. Some deaf and hard of hearing people have reported all three perceptions, as have people with aphantasia," a lack of visual imagery.

"I thought some of the vision scientists I follow would be able to explain it right away, but it seems like there are several plausible explanations and no clear consensus."...

via International Skeptics Forum

Three Orthodox Jews and a Coptic Christian walk into a Levantine Bar

The three orthodox jews are Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, the coptic christian is Dina Powell. They make up the team Trump assigned to the task of making the "ultimate deal" in the Palestine/Israel issue, and Kushner joked about that himself at the Haim Saban Forum a few days ago.

Now it's rumoured for a few days that Trump will announce to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel, which is against conventions the UN and the international community have established since the late 60s. Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. This has been met with warnings and loud protests from almost every capital in the region (except Tel Aviv of course), with hothead Erdogan saying that such a decision would be "a catastrophe for all mankind" and all hell would break loose.

Yesterday Trump had telephone calls with some regional leaders including Netanyahoo and Abbas, and today it is reported that Abbas said that he was told Trump will move the US embassy to Jerusalem and announce it this week. Which is by far not as extreme a measure as recognizing the city as capital.

So this shall be a thread about the efforts of the Trump administration to solve the Israel/Palestine issue and the effects caused by them.

via International Skeptics Forum

Trans Women are not Women

This subject has been brought to a head in NZ by the inclusion of a trans woman in our weightlifting teams for the Commonwealth Games. Link:

She competed as a bloke until a few years ago when it occurred to him that under new rules he could compete as a shiela and actually win something he was actually a woman trapped in a man's body, despite having male DNA.

In these inclusionary times I find it interesting that the main group of people who openly agree with the thread title are Germaine Greer and other TERFs. (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) How appropriate that the very women who empowered women in the '60s are now, in their 60s, disempowering women.

I have no problem with trans women and even worked on a trans-positive hiring strategy with a couple of large companies, but I cannot and will not accept that they are the same as women. They are most welcome to use women's bathrooms, go to women's jails and changing rooms, but they're not actually women, and can see why Greer and others feel the same.

They have a choice.

No, I'm not saying gender/sexuality is a choice, but it certainly can be, as the significant - but small - sample of trans reversals displays.

via International Skeptics Forum

Did Paul exist?

I've been reading a bit on this issue of late.

My overall view of this is that almost nothing is knowable about early Christianity and whether or not Paul existed can't be known. I think most secular authors agree with this but some argue that he probably did.

Earl Doherty and Richard Carrier argue that it is very likely that he did. Ken Humprhreys of says even just considering the six generally considered genuine epistles of Paul that the story is too screwy and Paul probably didn't exist.

Both Doherty and Carrier seem to have similar ideas about Paul. He was promoting a religion based on a mystical Jesus that didn't exist as a flesh and blood human. Eventually the religion that Paul was pushing morphed into the Christianity we know today with a flesh and blood Jesus as its core. So Paul is an integral part of their story.

Ken Humphrey's on the six authentic epistles
Most of his other stuff on Paul relates to how unreliable Acts is. I think most if not all secular Christianity history writes agree with that.

Richard Carrier argument that Paul existed

Earl Doherty
Among Doherty's arguments is that if Paul's writing were a second century forgery they would be focused more on what Christianity had changed to by then. I thought it was a good argument but I don't have a link right now for it.

via International Skeptics Forum

[Split From] The Trump Presidency Part IV - Baby boomers are the for me only generation.

Trump born 14th June 1946. Baby boomers (and Generation X have largely followed their parents example) are the for me only generation. They care not for future generations and the economics, environment and culture they will inherit.

This is classic baby boomer behaviour by Trump;

Trumps tax reforms, just passed mean

"Most Americans across all income levels would see modest tax breaks until 2026 and the committee said after that families earning under $75,000 a year would likely face higher taxes."

One Senator broke ranks because;

"I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that... could deepen the debt burden on future generations," he said."

The prime benefit is for the wealthy baby boomers who push a financial burden onto future generations. His other baby boomer behaviour has been over climate change and his desire to continue with fossil fuels. He does not care about the long term damage done, so long as he is OK now.

via International Skeptics Forum

Attempted school shooting

I live in a small country town, in Australia. A 16 and an 18 year old have been charged with planning a mass shooting, stabbing at a local school event.
It's a tragedy all over, one of the boys was born drug addicted and the other has been in treatment for some time,
Living in a very small country town it has really shaken the local community.
Seems to have been a very genuine plot with genuine weapons involving "poor mans napalm" involved. Not nice at all.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 4 décembre 2017

RNC reinstates support for Moore after Trump endorsement

Remember last month when all those Republicans were calling for Roy Moore to drop out of the race, and the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said that they wouldn't support his election campaign? Well, never mind about that. Trump has now formally endorsed him and the rest of the Republican party is falling into line.

RNC reinstates support for Moore after Trump endorsement


The Republican National Committee is reinstating its support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after initially cutting ties over allegations of sexual misconduct, The Hill confirmed on Monday.

Breitbart News first reported that the RNC had decided to step back into the race just hours after President Trump fully endorsed the controversial candidate.

Two sources confirmed RNC's renewed support.

"We can confirm our involvement in the Alabama Senate race," an RNC official told The Hill.

A second source close to the RNC told The Hill that "the Breitbart story is real.”

Trump endorsed Moore in a tweet that blasted out to millions of his followers as well as in a follow-up call aboard Air Force One, in which the president said, "Go get 'em, Roy."

The report comes after officials at the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the party's Senate campaign arm, told The Associated Press last month that they would not support Moore even after Trump stood by him.

The two GOP campaign groups cut ties with Moore in October, halting their financial and field support for his bid as a chorus of Republican lawmakers called on him to step aside.

via International Skeptics Forum

Santa Claus

My skeptic parenting has paid off. My son has thought about the whole Santa thing and, based on the fact that I've told him magic isn't real, he has realized that there can't really be flying reindeer - and so Santa must have a jet pack.

Baby steps.

via International Skeptics Forum

John Anderson Dead at 95

John Anderson Dead at 95

I attended an election rally of his and shook his hand on the CU Boulder campus. The first presidential candidate I ever voted for. R.I.P.

via International Skeptics Forum

HaHA the jokes on you Gays, your marriage is a worthless piece of paper!

"AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Texas ruling that gay spouses may not be entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits — a potential victory for social conservatives hoping to chip away at 2015’s legalization of same-sex marriage."

So win one for christians, this is the first step to making only christian marriage have any real effect. Fits in well their the republican goal of christian dominionism.

via International Skeptics Forum

Simpsons' Character a Truther

I happened to be watching a year-old episode of the Simpsons, which ended with this bit:


At about 38 seconds in he says, "Five words. Jet fuel can't melt steel!"

I just about fell out of my chair laughing. Part of the enjoyment was wondering just how many people out there got the gag.

If you aren't familiar with the show, the guy is Milhouse's dad, who's always been portrayed as something of a loser. Note in particular that he only expresses his Trutherism when he's getting drunk. So I certainly don't think the Truthers will be rushing to embrace him as a new celebrity Truther.

via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 3 décembre 2017

If you are one, how would you respond to the following scenario as a materialist?

The scenario is this:

I do a practice that is intended to "open" my third eye. The practice is chanting the sound OM for 10 minutes a day, twice a day. I do the practice for a couple of weeks, and eventually something happens, you can call it my third eye opening just for the sake of argument. All of a sudden I see what looks like auras, see what looks like ghosts, and feel what seems to be other people's emotions. What would you, if you are a materialist, say about this as a materialist? And for the sake of the thread we'll just say a materialist is someone who believes that there are no supernatural entities.

via International Skeptics Forum

I find it strange that many Truthers don't admit that Saudi Arabia is mostly to blame

For 9/11, that is - both indirectly and (in some ways) directly - along with Pakistan (the ISI, mainly), the Taliban in Afghanistan (for providing safe harbor to bin Laden and his confederates), and many Sunni/Wahhabist
imams operating with the blessing of Saudi and other Gulf monarchy sponsored "charities" around the world (or at the very least, willful neglect and turning a blind eye to what some of these clerics and donors were really up to).

Hell, even Iran was willing to provide sanctuary to some al-Qaeda associates and operatives under that time-old logic "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" (Iran's enemies, in this case, being the US, Israel, and the Sunni Gulf monarchies that al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists have been very explicit about wanting to violently overthrow - which further complicates the position of the House of Saud and the other Islamic regimes in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf).

In some tragic and twisted irony, one of the few Middle Eastern regimes that did NOT tolerate al-Qaeda (domestically) was Saddam Hussein's Iraq - not out of the goodness of Saddam's indisputably sadistic heart, mind you, but because Saddam (correctly) judged bin Laden and his followers to be threats to his own absolute draconian power and brutally authoritarian regime in Iraq, and Saddam usually only sponsored terrorists when he could control them.

When Truthers do admit any of these facts, it's almost inevitably as a logically tortured way station en route to their argument that violent jihadists, clerics, and their patrons in the Islamic world are merely acting on behalf of the real puppet-masters who are responsible for 9/11 and everything else that is bad, unjust, and evil in the world (the US and Israel, mostly - hmm...:rolleyes: ). Apparently, Muslims have no agency of their own, no ability to act independently of what the US, the West in general (and Israel...lmao) instruct them to do. Nothing racist or condescending about that at all!

There's plenty to talk about regarding the disturbing economic, geopolitical, and even personal ties between American and other Western elites on the one hand, and some of the dubious (at best) and corrupt elites in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, etc. on the other...but that doesn't lend itself to blaming the Jooz and talking about controlled demolitions, thermite, and cruise missiles at the Pentagon, now does it? :rolleyes:

via International Skeptics Forum

How long before they cut Medicare and SS to pay for the tax cuts for millionaires?

This is a really great Forbes article.


Will GOP Cut Social Security And Medicare Before Or After The 2018 Election?

My former blogging partner Bruce Bartlett -- who in a previous life was chief economist for Republican economic icons Representatives Jack Kemp (R-NY) and Ron Paul (R-TX) -- for weeks has been shouting from the mountaintop the extreme likelihood of the GOP training its sights on Social Security and Medicare. To paraphrase Bruce's wisdom (look here, here and here, for example), the Republican deficit hawks that have been in the budget version of the witness protection program during the current mega deficit-increasing tax cut debate will reemerge with a vengeance to demand Social Security and Medicare cuts to reduce the deficit they just created.
Does anyone disagree that this is true?


Interest on the national debt will be increasing substantially in the years ahead as the federal deficit reaches $1 trillion or more and interest rates rise.
When they start screaming about a fiscal cliff and "entitlement reform" this time, I think it might actually be true. Engineered, but real.

Also worth reading and extremely relevant if you've never seen it before, from 1985:

But, Dr. von Hayek continued, ''You see, one of Reagan's advisers told me why the President has permitted that to happen, which makes the matter partly excusable: Reagan thinks it is impossible to persuade Congress that expenditures must be reduced unless one creates deficits so large that absolutely everyone becomes convinced that no more money can be spent.''

Thus, the economist said, Mr. Reagan ''hopes to persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded!!!''

But he has, more than Dr. von Hayek could know last March. Now he wants more. While some Americans may agree that a shrunken government makes a deliberately created deficit ''partly excusable,'' such a deficit still reflects a reckless deception with worldwide consequences yet to be calculated. And Congressional Democrats should realize the source of the pressure they're under to sell their political birthright.

via International Skeptics Forum

Politicians withholding medical conditions

Rewatching the West Wing after a while. For those of you who haven't seen it, the President withholds from the public when running for President that he has relapsing remitting MS. It starts a debate as to whether he needs to disclose , whether it was ethical etc etc.

Would you care? If not, what would you care about? Or do you want complete transparency from your politicians? If your leader was suffering from severe, severe depression, do you think this should be known?

via International Skeptics Forum

What does Comey know, and when did he know it?

Fired FBI director James Comey has offered these cryptic messages relating to Trump's evolving story lines:

“To paraphrase the Buddha — Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun; the moon; and the truth.”

“But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” Amos 5:24

One might get the impression that Comey might know some stuff. FBI directors, even fired ones, do tend to know stuff. Is Comey telling us, in his cryptic way, that Trump is going down, or is Comey just messing with the sasquatch?

via International Skeptics Forum

I had to go to the hospital with asthma last night.

I tried to fight the attack off by myself but Symbicort and albuterol were not helping. I called an ambulance and they took me to the hospital. I was injected with two drugs and I had two breathing treatments.

One drug that they did not give me was epinephrine. That drug used to be the standard medicine they used. A dose of epinephrine and a tranquilizer would knock asthma out and you could go home. Later on they used less epinephrine but these days they have stopped altogether.

They said they stopped because the drug induces high blood pressure and my blood pressure at the time was well above the stroke level. Nowadays instead of going to your doctor, getting a shot and going home are things of the past. I was in the hospital for four hours.

Getting back to the epinephrine. The doctor told me that the drug would not treat asthma just cases of anaphylactic shock or the like. I didn't say anything but from personal experience, the drug does indeed stop even a severe attack in its tracks. Did the young doctor not know this or was she trying to discourage me from using my epi pen?

via International Skeptics Forum

How should crime be investigated?

I would like an overhaul of how crime is investigated. The main change is that I think that the police should be split into two.

One part are trained investigators, who have degree qualifications and whose prime role is to find and gather evidence. They are the existing CID officers, but they are brighter and work to a higher standard.

They should be fully compliant with the duty to investigate all reasonable lines of enquiry including that which may be exculpatory evidence and the duty to disclose ALL evidence. They should be better aware of the right to presumption of innocence.

The other part of the police are the first responders to incidents, who deal with minor crime, disturbances and who have training in crime scene preservation for major crime. They are the existing uniformed officers, from response, community firearms etc policing. They also know about duty to investigate etc, but they deal with minor crimes.

Both should then submit ALL the evidence to the prosecutor who then decides if someone is to be charged or not and if any more enquiry is needed. They act as an independent quality control check. The police should not have that power to charge any more. They can only report a person with an evidence file.

In effect that would make defence lawyers jobs far easier, as they should find there is pretty much nothing they have to investigate. If they do think somethign has been missed, they can request enquiry.

The judge/sheriff/jury then gets presented with pretty much all the evidence, in a far more matter of fact way than the present story telling a version of events that goes on in courts. The court decides from the evidence.

I think that would reduce miscarriages of justice and drive up the quality of investigation.

via International Skeptics Forum

samedi 2 décembre 2017

UK Government Social mobility board quits

All four members of the board of the government's Social Mobility Commission have stood down in protest at the lack of progress towards a "fairer Britain".
Ex-Labour minister Alan Milburn, who chairs the commission, said he had "little hope" the current government could make the "necessary" progress.
Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard is among three others to quit.

via International Skeptics Forum

vendredi 1 décembre 2017

The cesspool of the modern corporate-driven web

Caution! Rant follows.

I hate modern web design. With a passion. Today's web designers have the attention span of a gnat with ADHD and a chronic case of "Oh, shiny!"

I go to a web site. Wait and wait, because it takes forever to load as it goes off to a hundred other servers to get content and no small amount of crap JavaScript that I really don't want running. (Literally--the Daily Mail's home page makes more than 500 requests to over 150 different URLs.) These days I run ad blockers and JavaScript blockers to get around this problem.

Start reading the site's content. BAM! The page darkens and a pop-up appears. JOIN US! GIVE US YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO GET A PIDDLY DISCOUNT ON YOUR FIRST PURCHASE! Subscribe to our newsletter! Get our flyer delivered to your inbox every week! Would you like to take a site survey?

Go away! I'll subscribe to that crap at the end of my visit if I'm sufficiently interested. But only then, when I've at least had a chance to see if you're even worth it. (Hint: damned near 100% of time you aren't.)

Dismiss the box. Start reading the page again. Scroll down. CSS-based unmovable banner hogs a piece of the top of the page, and sometimes a strip off the bottom as well. If I'm on a laptop monitor I might have precious little vertical screen real estate as it is, and the site wants to obscure even part of that. And more annoyances! Sometimes unmovable side items eat into the text I'm trying to view because I don't run my browser full-width on a 1920 pixel wide screen like the designer does.

Scroll down a bit more. BAM! Flyout--NOW READ THIS TOTALLY UNRELATED ITEM! OH, DO YOU WANT TO CHAT WITH OUR CUSTOMER REPRESENTATIVE? (Yeah, right. Some minimum wage drone at a site in Dog knows what country who is in no way, shape or form connected with the company who's web site I'm at.) Now I have to take my attention away AGAIN from what I'm trying to read to get rid of the damned flyout!

Try to use the search feature. That is, if I can type something in when the SLIDER CHANGES EVERY TWO SECONDS AND YANKS MY ATTENTION AWAY FROM WHAT I'M TRYING TO TYPE. Press Enter. Nothing happens--too many idiot web designers require me to take my hand off the keyboard, find the mouse or touchpad, navigate to the "Search" icon, and click. Nothing happens--search is handled by a third party JavaScript (what--can't you just POST the information to a server?) Enable a bit more Javascript. Still no go. Enable all JavaScript for the site and reload the page twice to make sure it gets all the crap, and a whole whack of analytics and web trackers that I don't want tracking me! (I now have FaceBook, Google Analytics, and Twitter trackers pointing to in my hosts file, so nothing can connect to them.)

Look at the search results. Middle-click or ctrl+left-click to open an interesting result in a new tab. (Why? To return to the search results, all I need to do is close the new tab, instead of having to use the back button and wait for the results page to reload--and potentially lose my position. Also, with two or three tabs open I can quickly review differences in my selections.) Nothing happens. WHAT? Look at the mouseover text: the link is actually a little bit of JavaScript that doesn't respond to middle-click, or if it does it OPENS THE PAGE IN THE SAME WINDOW! News flash for web designers: tabs have been a thing on web browsers for over a decade now!

Look for contact page to complain about horrible site. If you're lucky there might be a form you can fill out. Maybe the form uses teeny tiny input boxes; most browsers these days let you re-size them, but tonight I hit a site that managed to disable even that! CAPTCHA! Can't read, or it's that awful Google "click all pictures that have X in them" captcha that you have to try two or three times to get it to work. (And I hate having to connect to Google for anything!)

Read a news site. All through the article are links to OTHER ARTICLES! Guys, I'm trying to read this article. I really dislike reading a sentence, only to realize it has NOTHING to do with what I'm trying to read about, and having to mentally throw it away and go to the next paragraph. And I'm constantly having to skip over embedded video windows. If I want to watch a video, I'll go to the video part of your site! Right now I'm reading your site.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I'm looking at a page I prefer it to be static. I don't appreciate having my attention distracted or otherwise yanked away from what I'm trying to consume by loads of other usually useless crap the site's owners and web designers are trying to shove at me.

via International Skeptics Forum

Is this sub forum even necessary nowadays?

I’m sorry but I just don’t see any reason why this should remain a general topic on ISF. It should just be merged with the “Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theory” Forum. This sub forum gets the least amount of traffic(except Education) on this site.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories may have been a major discussion back in 2006(when this forum was split from the main Conspiracy page), but today it seems like we only get a new thread here once every month and they often just get just a few posts.

The 9/11 Truth Movement is all but dead and hardly anyone visits here anymore. Please just roll it up.

via International Skeptics Forum

State orders gun owners to turn them in!

If they have a medical marijuana card.

Many questions....
Medical pot is legal in HI, can you do this?
But it's illegal federally, should they be the ones doing this?
Pot users are probably less violent than alcohol users, whose guns should they be taking?
Have I just created YAGT?

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Stone Circles, Grid Gardens, & Atlantis

No more convoluted, "...this, that, and this is what you said before, that's not even real, here's how you are lying, why haven't you answered this question, blah blah blah..."

Here's is my evidence for the existence of an advanced agricultural global civilization, its connections to Atlantis, evidence for the what destroyed the mythical city, and I have only just begun...

I just discovered an entire forgotten Atlantean-styled series of cities in Nigeria!

3D wall, anyone?

Lat. 7°35'54.42"N
Long. 11°10'44.41"E

Attached Images
File Type: jpg evidence.jpg (49.7 KB)

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Damian Green - alleged porn consumer

Damian Green is a senior Conservative MP and as First Secretary of State is Theresa May's second in command.

In 2008 his office was raided and his PCs inspected as part of a police investigation into government leaks. It is alleged that thousands of legal porn images were found on the computer.

The allegations were originally made some months ago by a retired detective constable and were dismissed at the time as an invention and a political smear. The plot thickened last month when Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner between 2009-11, said he was briefed about the claims but regarded them as a "side issue".

There has been some suggestion that someone else had used to computer to access the porn but it is now claimed that timestamps on emails and browsing history shows that if it was someone other than Damian Green then they were logged into his computer as him and sending emails as him at the same time as browsing the porn.

IMO if anyone who worked for me was using their work computer to access porn during office hours then at best they'd have a written warning - most likely that would constitute gross misconduct and result in their dismissal - I think that's fairly typical.

The Conservatives are instead defending the man. David Davis is warning that Green should not be sacked - but then again Double-D only works three days a week and so would have plenty of opportunity to look at porn in his own time.

There is no suggestion that any of the images were illegal, just that surfing porn at work is bad and then lying about it isn't a good idea either.

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Why didn't iPhone bring out the iX?

I was just thinking the other day that instead of causing confusion and mockery, Apple could have brought out the iPhone 8 and the iPhone iX (referred to as the iPhone 9 that is!)

This would have made sense on three grounds:

1) it’s sequential
2) the i prefix is an Apple marketing staple
3) it makes the transition to Roman numerals meaningful and less jarring and confusing

Can I really be the only one who has thought of this?

I very much doubt it. I am sure some, or at least one, of those smart people in Apple must have floated the idea only to be vetoed by the ghost of Steve Jobs, like he vetoed real medicine.

Should I inform them and pitch the idea to them that instead of having everyone walking around talking about their new "iPhone Ecks" that they could rebrand it with a much cleverer name?

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Michael Flynn charged

Flynn charged with one count of making false statement
Jeremy Herb
By Jeremy Herb, CNN
Updated 1422 GMT (2222 HKT) December 1, 2017

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Some thoughts on the tax bill in Congress.

Nearly doubles the standard deduction: Like the House bill, Senate Republicans would significantly raise today's standard deduction. In the Senate bill, the deduction for singles increases to $12,000 from $6,350 currently; and it raises it for married couples filing jointly to $24,000 from $12,700.

Eliminates personal exemptions: Today you're allowed to claim a $4,050 personal exemption for yourself, your spouse and each of your dependents. Both the Senate and House bills eliminate that option.
My wife and I file jointly; our gross income is about $90k a year with about $24k of that going into a retirement plan. I don't have any child care, education or mortgage expenses so I've been using the standard deduction for years. My deduction would change from $14,450 to $24,000; a significant amount.

I've yet to calculate how much the change in tax brackets would affect me. I can see larger families being hit hard by the changes.


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Are we in another bubble about to burst?

Call me crazy, not an entirely inaccurate claim, but I'm getting a kind of twitchy feeling about our current stock market. A very similar feeling to what I had back in 2006 about property values. I just don't really see anything substantial happening with the companies who have stocks soaring day after day to justify the rise.

Is this all irrational investing? Is this a bubble about to pop?

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jeudi 30 novembre 2017

Advice on Samsung Tab A

Several years ago I bought a rather inexpensive tablet, in order to find out whether I would use one and how. I bought one with a 10.1" screen, after experimenting in a store with that size and the smaller screens. The model I got came with a cover that had a Bluetooth keyboard built into it.

I discovered that the tablet worked just fine for both those purposes and for others as I got more apps, and it became even more useful after I started using the Overdrive app to read e-books from the public library.

Now the screen has become either unresponsive or too responsive, the zoom feature is not stable, the keyboard doesn't want to charge, and the cover is becoming worn. I am looking for a new tablet.

The Samsung Tab A is available through Best Buy for about $280 and through Costco for about $270.

Does anyone have any advice, feedback, opinion, experience with this specific model of tablet? I would not be buying a keyboard for it; I have found that if I am going to use it to type more than a few lines, it's better to plug in a full-size USB keyboard.

ETA, since my cataract surgery, I find that I need a higher-resolution screen than previously, and also that the screen brightness needs to be pretty high.

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Not guilty verdict in Kate Steinle murder

Convicted for possession of a firearm, not guilty of 2nd degree murder.

When I saw how the city immediately sought to minimize the act itself I had a bad feeling that this was going to be the result.

Within 48 hours of the crime the DA's office had already decided that this wasn't a first degree murder case due to the shooters statement that "he didn't mean to kill the lady."

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Not guilty verdict in Kate Steinle muder


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Marco Rubio spills beans about cutting Social Security and Medicare


Asked by interviewers Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman how to address the federal deficit, he replied: “We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.”
Hopefully they will do this before the mid-term elections so they can see how well it's going to go over.

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do you really exist or not? according to Allan Watts you are an illusion

What you guys think about it, about Jim Carrey recent interviews saying he believes you don't actually exist or if you exist you don't matter, and we are all impersonal tetrahedrons and forms of consciousness of "god", I don't know what he means by that anyways, since I don't believe in god. Also there are many videos from a philosopher called "Allan Watts" on youtube, and some other "gurus", saying they can actually proves it. I know the concept of existence they don't define it,

I think therefore I am, is that true?


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Russell murders, new suspect.

News that Levi Bellfield, already convicted murderer, has made a confession to killing Lin and Megan Russell in Kent in 1996. The admission, to another prisoner, allegedly contains details only the killer would know.

Then there is also a witness who says she reported seeing a man, who she now identifies as Bellfield near the scene of the murder. Apparently she made the initial report on the day of the murder. When she later saw Bellfield in publicity for a later trial, she is sure it was him.

The conviction of Michael Stone for the murder was primarily on a supposed admission he made. There was no forensic evidence linking him, which is odd considering the ferocity of the attack with a hammer, that also killed the dog the Russells had with them.

The MO is also like Bellfield, who killed Amelie Delagrange with strikes from a blunt instrument.

Initially this looks pretty compelling Stone is the wrong man for the murders. The sad thing is that despite the evidence, this will likely take a long time, as the justice system hates to admit it has made a mistake with a conviction.

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Cognitive Theory: Ongoing Progress, part 2

Lately, I've been investigating ways of breaking causality in Turing derivative devices (like computers). I remembered that years ago I wrote a non-recursive solution to Towers of Hanoi that wasn't sensitive to the initial state. In other words, it could begin with any legal positioning of the disks and solve in the least number of moves. So, it occurred to me that if the program didn't rely on the previous state for a solution then this would imply a causal break. And it would seem that randomness in the environment would do the same thing. This wasn't a new idea. I was well aware that Hofstadter said the same thing almost forty years ago.

The next thing to consider was whether this appears in living organisms. The example that came to mind was stereotypical behavior of zoo animals. For example, bears will pace for hours at a time. In the documentaries I'd seen on this the treatment was to make the bear's environment more random. So, it looks like we have confirmation of degraded behavior when environmental entropy is lacking, and an improvement of behavior when environmental entropy is restored. To be honest, the idea that something as intelligent as a bear is so dependent on environmental entropy was quite surprising to me.

This could mean that animals have been more dependent on environmental entropy than I suspected. This would also suggest that animal consciousness would be more constrained. However humans don't seem to have this severe reliance on environmental entropy. Why? The next question is if this is seen with great apes which are closer in brain structure to humans. Since I'm not very knowledgeable about this, I need more information from people who are.

How Abnormal Is the Behaviour of Captive, Zoo-Living Chimpanzees?

Our overall finding was that abnormal behaviour was present in all sampled individuals across six independent groups of zoo-living chimpanzees, despite the differences between these groups in size, composition, housing, etc. We found substantial variation between individuals in the frequency and duration of abnormal behaviour, but all individuals engaged in at least some abnormal behaviour, and variation across individuals could not be explained by sex, age, rearing history or background (defined as prior housing conditions).
So, this wouldn't rule it out. However, it doesn't have information about treatment. In the one experiment that I can recall that specifically sought to make the environment of zoo chimpanzees less predictable, the new elements only seemed to be noticed by juvenile chimps. Mature chimps didn't seem to pay any attention.

Stereotypic Behavior in Nonhuman Primates as a Model for the Human Condition

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose central features include impaired social interaction and communication as well as stereotyped patterns of behavior
This is of perhaps more interest to me because my nephew has Asperger Syndrome and he does have stereotypical behavior.

in a study of 210 residents of a facility for individuals with intellectual disability, 60.9% were reported to exhibit stereotypies
So, it appears that this behavior in humans is seen with some type of brain disorder. This would suggest that there is a distinct difference between, say, chimp and human cognition. But then we have treatment:

In rhesus macaques, stereotypies have been associated with environmental restriction such as single housing; those housed singly exhibited more repetitive locomotion, stereotypy, and self-directed behavior than did monkeys housed in social groups. Similarly, chimpanzees removed from their social group and placed in individual cages also showed an increase in stereotyped behaviors
In older animals, additional environmental enhancements such as foraging opportunities can also promote an improvement in behavior. For example, the provisioning of straw, food puzzles, and forage materials reduced abnormal behavior in chimpanzees and rhesus macaques; as foraging increased, abnormal behaviors, including stereotypies, decreased.
Now that is quite interesting to me since the chimpanzees are responding to entropy in a way similar to bears. And, this would explain why the older chimps didn't pay attention in the experiment that I was familiar with. And then:

As with nonhuman primates, environmental enrichment also reduced stereotyped behavior in both children and adults with autism and intellectual disabilities

when institutionalized intellectually disabled adults were presented with pictures to look at or objects to manipulate, allowing for an alternate activity, they showed reduced levels of stereotypies.

Similarly, when 13 autistic children were provided with multiple sensorimotor stimuli, including olfactory enrichment, music enrichment, and exposure to different textures and toys, they showed a significant reduction in autism severity scores in comparison with the control group that did not receive the enrichment, and there was also a significant increase in the number of parents reporting an improvement in autism symptoms

This does seem to refute Hofstadter's suggestion that environmental entropy alone could be enough for human level cognition. And, it points to a direction for more investigation. One more piece of the consciousness puzzle.

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